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How gifted children view friendships

May 30, 2012

CGA Campus Reps conducted research on the social/emotional needs of gifted children.  The following entry was summarized by Marla Williams, the campus rep from Lakeside.  The information here is a summary of the original post by Miraca U. M. Gross.  For the entire article published on the SENG website, please click here.

A friend is often the most desired asset for a gifted child.   However gifted children often have an accelerated understanding of the friendship dynamic which inhibits attaining friendship.

Not surprisingly, understanding friendships varies based on gender, chronological age and mental ability.  Studies show that Mental Age/Ability often is the driving factor in how children view friendships.

Friendships are broken down by stages.

Stage 1:  Play Partner.  Someone to play with, allows them to use/borrow toys.

Stage 2:  People to Chat to.  Sharing common interests.  Conversations no longer related to just activity involved.

Stage 3:  Help and encouragement.  See friends as person to help them.  Not necessarily a 2 way street.

Stage 4: Intimacy/empathy.  2 way street.  Emotional bonding/sharing

Stage 5: “the sure shelter”.  A place where you feel safe, can truly be yourself.

The study found that the most exceptionally gifted (IQ 160+) were the most advanced in their understandings of friendship.  Exceptionally gifted girls aged 6 to 7 often displayed understanding of an average ability 11 – 12 year olds.

Exceptionally gifted boys of young ages are at greatest risk for isolation as boys showed slower maturity than girls.

Gifted children often look for friendships with other gifted children of their own chronological age or older children with above average mental ability.

Take aways:

Ability grouping at younger ages is appropriate to help alleviate feelings of social isolation due to advanced understanding of friendships.   This can mean acceleration with older peers.

Classroom placement solely based on chronological age without regard to intellectual or emotional ability is more likely to result in the gifted experiencing loneliness or social isolation.  This is especially true in elementary vs. secondary school.

As children age into adulthood, the understanding gap closes.

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